Find a local pick your own farm here!

Pressure Canner Annual and Periodic Maintenance: Inspecting, Testing and Repairing Pressure Canners

Pressure canners are not that diffuclt to maintain and care for.  Here's how in straightworward steps.

And if you've lost your canner's manual, see this page for free replacement manuals which you can download and print. Also see this page for many recipes and directions to make many foods to pressure can!  If you are looking to possibly purchase a pressure canner, see this page for our recommendations, prices and where to buy them.

This page has a Pressure canner buying guide.

 

Which type of pressure canner do you have?pressure canner parts and use explained

Dial Gauge or Pressure weight regulator?  See the photo at right.  Dial type pressure canners have a dial gauge on top.  Weight gage have either just a simple weight or a 3-piece regulator weight.

Gauge maintenance

Only the dial gauges require any maintenance.  each year, they should be tested to see if they are reading the pressure accurately.

You should have the gauge inspected if the cover has been submerged in water or dropped, gauge glass is broken or has fallen out, parts are rusty, pointer is not in the "0" block, or if you believe the gauge may not be accurate. If your dial gauge reads high or low by more than 2 pounds when tested at 11 pounds of pressure, it should be replaced. If the reading is off by less than 2 pounds, follow the recommendation of the person testing your canner (see “Dial Gauge Inspection and Accuracy,” page 13). Low readings cause overprocessing. If a gauge is reading lower than it should, you can make adjustments to avoid overprocessing, but they are not essential to safety. Gauges that read high cause underprocessing and may result in unsafe food. Every pound of pressure is necessary to reach the canner temperature needed for producing safe food. Accurate gauges and adjustments to processing times are essential when a gauge reads higher than it should.

Where to get a dial gauge tested

Gauges may be checked at many county extension offices; contact the pressure canner manufacturer for other options. See this page for a list of county extension offices.  If you are unable to have your dial gauge checked locally, carefully remove the gauge and call your canner's Consumer Service Department for directions. If you've lost your canner's manual, see this page for free replacement manuals which you can download and print.

Gaskets

Check the sealing ring, overpressure plug, and the rubber gasket of the air vent/cover lock. Replace these parts when they become hard, deformed, cracked, worn, pitted, or unusually soft. You can uusualy order these parts online, often through Amazon.  See this page for replacement parts.

Summary

That's about it

  • Checking a dial type gauge and
  • checking the rubber arts for damage or wear.

Pressure canners are very sturdy and reliable and usually last generations with only occassional replacement to the rubber parts.

 

Common Pressure Canning Problems and Solutions

  • Altitudes above sea level - Recipes normally include directions for the proper pressure and processing time if you are more than 1,000 ft above sea level.
  • Failure to vent trapped air - When you seal the canner, it has water, jars and air (O2, N2, CO2, etc.) in it.  The air trapped in a pressure canner has different thermodynamic properties than steam (H2O) and lowers the temperature, which results in under processing.  For this reason, we vent pressure canners for 10 minutes before the weights are put on and they are pressurized.
  • Dial gauge malfunctions - Dial gauges should be checked for accuracy each year before use.  If the gauge reads high or low by more than one pound at 5, 10 or 15 pounds pressure, replace it.  Weighted gauges are always accurate.  If your canner has both gauge and weight, also go by the weight using the gauge as a guide only.
  • Canning jars, lids and rings - While there are many styles and shapes of glass jars on the market, only canning jars are recommended for home canning. canning jars are available in 1/2 pint, pint, and quart capacities with threads on which a cap may be screwed. See the chart below for the jar capacity of your canner. Additional information may be obtained from the manufacturers of canning jars. CLOSURES FOR canning jars: The two-piece vacuum cap consists of a flat metal lid held in place with a screw band. A rubber compound on the underside of the lid forms a seal during processing. Follow the closure manufacturer's directions for using the two-piece cap and for testing for a proper seal. If the closure has not sealed, completely reprocess or use the food immediately. Refer to the closure manufacturer's directions for additional information.

 

See below for prices, descriptions and ordering options for pressure canners.  For water bath canners and other supplies, see this page! If you have a glass top radiant stove, see Canners for glass top stoves?

For other supplies:

You can also find free information from the USDA in this PDF file (it will take a while to load!) about selecting and using canners here!

For more information, and NO obligation to buy, just click on the links in the Amazon boxes on the left!

Pressure canners!

If you want to can low-acid foods such as red meats, sea food, poultry, milk, and all fresh vegetables with the exception of most tomatoes,  you will need a pressure canners.  These foods  fit into the low acid group since they have an acidity, or pH level, of 4.6 or greater. The temperature which must be reached and maintained (for a specified amount of time) to kill the bacteria is 240 F. Pressure canning is the only canning method recommended safe by the U.S.D.A. for low-acid foods such as vegetables, meats, and fish. Ordinary water bath canners can only reach 212 F and cannot to kill the types of bacteria that will grow in low acid foods. This temperature can be reached only by creating steam under pressure as achieved in quality pressure canners.

There are several manufacturers of pressure canners.  The two leading ones are Presto and All American (Wisconsin Aluminum). They are more expensive than water bath canners, but extremely well built - I bought mine in 1988 and it still looks and works like new!


Presto 01781 23-Quart Pressure Cooker/Canner

This is usually about $79.  (which is a GREAT price for a pressure canner). There is also a 16 quart version for about $69. Click on the links at left or above for more info and current pricing.

Features:

  • 17 by 15-1/2 inches; 12-year warranty
  • Heavy-duty 23-quart aluminum pressure canner and cooker
  • Comfortably ergonomic, stay-cool black plastic handles
  • Strong-lock lid with pressure regulator, dial gauge, and overpressure plug
  • Comes with canning rack to protect jars during canning


All American Pressure Canner and Cooker #921

Features:

  • Exclusive "metal-to-metal" sealing system
  • Automatic overpressure release and easy-to-read geared steam guage
  • Professional quality, extra heavy duty cast aluminum
  • The smallest size holds 19 pint jars and 7 quart jars; the largest holds 32 pint jars or 19 quart jars
  • One-year warranty

 

Fagor home canning accessories kit

5-Piece Canning Accessories Kit

  • Five-piece set: funnel, jar lifter, lid lifter, jar wrench, and tongs
  • Vinyl coating improves grip and prevents heat transfer
  • Extra-wide funnel mouth
  • Ideal for home canning
  • Hand washable only

Availability: Usually ships within 24 hours   

   
 
Canning all sorts of fruit and vegetables, even meat with a pressure canner it's easy.  And although a pressure canner costs $100 to $200 (see this page for pressure canners models, makes and prices), they last a lifetime, and your children and grandchildren may be using it. You can also find free information from the USDA in this PDF file (it will take a while to load!) about selecting and using canners here!

 

 


Picking Tips

[General picking tips and a guide to each fruit and vegetable] [How much do I need to pick? (Yields - how much raw makes how much cooked or frozen)] [Selecting the right varieties to pick] [All about apple varieties - which to pick and why!]  [Picking tips for Vegetables] [ Strawberry picking tips] [ Blueberries picking tips]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Illustrated Canning, Freezing, Jam Instructions and Recipes

All About Home Canning, Freezing and Making Jams, Pickles, Sauces, etc. ] [FAQs - Answers to common questions and problems] [Recommended books about home canning, jam making, drying and preserving!] [Free canning publications to download and print]